Most competitive sporting events consist of runs and momentum. Friday night’s “Battle of the Bay” between the Freeport and Yarmouth high school football teams was no different.

The Clippers scored 20 unanswered second-half points to sail past the Falcons, 27-21 in Class C South football action.

The teams entered the game tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the region. Freeport concluded its season at 1-7, while Yarmouth improved to 2-6 and will travel to top-ranked Leavitt later this week in the first round of the Class C South playoffs.

Noah Eckersley-Ray threw for 108 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for another. Jack Ricciardi rushed for 138 yards and caught a touchdown, while Jack True added three receptions for 58 yards and a score to power Yarmouth to the victory.

Senior Josh Burke threw for 101 yards and a score for the Falcons. Jacob Tomm and James Knighton rushed for 46 and 25 yards, respectively.

“I am so proud of these kids. They battled hard tonight,” said Freeport head coach Paul St. Pierre. “Some of them have blood on their jersey’s and some of them were walking off the field on one leg.”

Freeport went to work immediately. Burke hit Tomm on the first play from scrimmage for a 20-yard gain into Yarmouth territory. A Tomm 12-yard run took the ball inside the Y-20. However, the Falcons fumbled on the next play, and Yarmouth recovered.

After a quick three-and-out for Yarmouth, Freeport went back at it, using its multi-back running game to move the ball. Behind the running of Knighton, Tomm, Burke, Jack Sawicki and Caden Benedict, the Falcons rushed down the field on eight plays and scored on a Tomm 11-yard run. After the kick failed, Freeport led 6- 0 midway through the first quarter.

“Our blockers were great tonight,” said Tomm, a senior playing football this season for the first time. “I’ve never experienced being on a team like this. I wish I had played football all four years, but nothing can take away what I experienced this season with these guys.”

Freeport’s Matt Hinds recovered a Yarmouth fumble on the second play of the next drive and the Falcons were back on offense. Three plays later, Freeport was in the end zone once again when Burke found Mike Foss behind the Clippers defenders for a 28-yard score. Knighton rushed the 2-point conversion for a 14-0 Falcons lead.

After each team traded possessions, Yarmouth took the ball over on the F-38 after Eckersley-Ray picked off a Burke pass with 3:03 left in the half. Yarmouth drove to the 22-yard line and with 38 seconds left, Eckersley Ray found True in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown. After the extra point, the Clippers trailed 14-7.

On the ensuing kickoff, Freeport’s Adam Ulrickson fielded the ball. He appeared to hand the ball off to a teammate, but he held on and ran up the middle. Eluding Yarmouth defenders, the junior sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown. Tomm’s kick made it a 21-7 game at the half.

Second half

Freeport successfully executed an onside kick to open the second half. Yarmouth stopped the Falcons on the next three plays. On fourth and 10, Freeport faked a punt and Aidan Michaud carried the ball 13 yards to the Y-37 for a first down.

“We wanted to stay aggressive. We didn’t want to let Yarmouth into the game,” said St. Pierre.

It was all for not, as the Falcons fumbled on the next snap and the Clippers took over.

Eckersley-Ray was forced out of the pocket, but managed to find a hole. Weaving in and out of the Freeport defense, the junior quarterback rushed for 35 yards to the F-21. After Ricciardi rushed the ball to the 1-yard line on two carries, Eckersley Ray drove into the end zone on a quarterback sneak for the score. John Decker’s kick was blocked and the score stood at 21-13 five minutes into the third quarter.

Freeport turned the ball over on downs on its next possession and the Clippers took over on their own 41- yard line. After completing a 24-yard pass to True, Eckersley Ray found Ricciardi on the right side for a 14-yard score. The 2-point conversion run was stopped, and the Falcons’ lead was 21-19.

Hobbled by a leg injury, Burke struggled to escape the Yarmouth pressure and was sacked for a loss. He later threw an interception at midfield as the third quarter came to a close.

“Josh wasn’t 100 percent today. He is such a gutsy leader out there,” said St. Pierre. “It’s tough when one of your top guys is playing on one leg.”

The Falcon defense responded, stopping the Clippers and forcing a punt. The Eckersley-Ray punt pinned the Falcons inside the 15-yard line with 10 minutes remaining. Despite a 23- yard first down on a pass from Burke to Sawicki, the Clipper defense stopped a Tomm run and two incomplete passes forced the Falcons to punt.

Ricciardi rushed for 32 yards and Eckersley-Ray hit Conner Senger for a six-yard gain, setting up a nifty 9- yard touchdown scamper by the quarterback for the score. Ricciardi rushed the 2-point conversion and Yarmouth led 27-21 with five minutes remaining.

On Freeport’s next drive, Burke was sacked on a second and 15. The quarterback was slow to get up and was forced to leave the field. On third down, the Falcons directly snapped to Tomm, but he was unable to gain a first down, forcing another Freeport punt with four minutes remaining.

Yarmouth put the ball in Ricciardi’s hands once again and the junior running back rattled off 49 yards on the next six plays, dashing any hopes of Freeport getting the ball back. The Clippers took a pair of knees in the final minute to run out the clock and capture the “Battle of the Bay” trophy.

When asked what he told his team after the game, a humble St. Pierre had nothing but praise.

“I told them what I meant. I told them that I love them, I’m proud of them and they should have a lot of pride as they fought to the end.” said St. Pierre. “We just ran out of fire power at the end.”

Reflecting on his senior season on the gridiron, Burke thanked his teammates, coaches, family and friends. Most notably, his senior teammate, center Garrison Thompson.

“I don’t know where I would be in football without Garrison Thompson,” said Burke. “I love them all, but he’s been there through it all, way back to pee-wees.”

Freeport graduates 12 seniors from this years’ squad. St. Pierre will surely miss these guys.

“I’m dam proud of my seniors. Five of them were new to the team this year, some stepping onto a football field for the first time. It’s hard to imagine where we would be without them this year.”

“For them to leave their other sports and come to our program, that’s amazing of what they did. I wish we had more time together.”

Yarmouth 27,
Freeport 21

Friday at Yarmouth
Freeport— 14 7 0 0 — 21
Yarmouth — 0 7 12 8 — 27
First quarter
F — Jacob Tomm 11 run (kick failed,
F — Mike Foss 28 pass from Josh
Burke (Knighton rush), 3:03.
Second quarter
Y — Jack True 22 pass from Noah
Eckersley-Ray (John Decker kick), :38
F — Adam Ulrickson 80 kick-off
return (Tomm kick), :32.
Third quarter
Y — Noah Eckersley-Ray 1 run (kick
failed), 6:59.
Y — Jack Ricciardi 14 pass from
Noah Eckersley-Ray (rush failed),
Fourth quarter
Y — Noah Eckersley-Ray 9 run (Jack
Ricciardi rush), 5:27.
Records — Yarmouth 2-6, Freeport
Note — Freeport’s season has concluded.

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